The meeting started at 4:00pm, with a full agenda -- recovery items, beautification items, budget items, FEMA items -- and renaming the skatepark in Johnny's memory. When it was time to open up the meeting to the public for discussion regarding the skatepark, Rhonda and Rebecca were the first to be called, then Brax (one of the author's of the proposal) -- they all had very touching tributes/justifications about renaming the park in Johnny's memory. I really didn't think I could get up in speak -- but then the Mayor called my name. Knowing I wouldn't make any sense if I tried to wing it, I prepared something instead:
"I'd like to thank the Parks and Recreations Board, Rebecca, Brax, Barbara and everyone who has supported Johnny and kept them close to their hearts. Even now Johnny's message is global and continues to bring people together for reasons I can't understand or explain. It would be an honor to the Romano family and hopefully the skateboarding community to have the park renamed in Johnny's memory.Johnny skated everyday -- healthy or sick, with friends or professionals -- which the average person might find impressive or even brag about. Yet Johnny who many feel represents the true spirit of skateboarding wasn't impressed with anything remotely related to stature. Johnny was about a shared drive and love for the sport -- skating has never been about who you are, sponsorships, age, gender or skill. The universal element that bonds the skating community is simple: a pure passion for the sport. This quality cannot be learned, taught or practiced. People who me Johnny quickly felt his passion and knew it reached far beyond skateboarding -- he was passionate about lie, never wasting a moment. It was his spiritedness that soon became synonymous with what some felt was the true meaning of skateboarding.For an hour, one Sunday morning last May, the Parks and Recreations board quietly opened the gates to the 'almost public' skatepark -- allowing Johnny to skate on last time before chemo started. Only now can I understand what a beautiful gift the Board gave our family that day. It's amazing that when a small town with a heart the size o Texas, told a small boy 'Yes" -- how much impact that one word, for one hour, had on our family -- never knowing it would be Johnny's last time to skate.It's the little things in life that make a difference -- just saying the word 'yes' can change a life, a community, a family and has left us with a lifetime of memories that we will never forget -- watching Johnny skate the empty park all to himself, with a big smile on his face and his friends and family cheering him on.May the memory of Johnny and his unwavering passion for skateboarding and life, continue to inspire generations of skaters as well as those who have followed his amazing story of strength and courage. Roll Forever. Thank You."
I honestly can't remember much about the entire thing, except that two Council members spoke and said they wished they would have gotten a chance to meet Johnny -- then the City voted unanimously to rename the park in Johnny's memory. It's official.
We will schedule some sort of ceremony for Saturday, April 25 to celebrate the new name -- and Johnny's 11th birthday. I will update more very soon.